MDHHS loosens mask requirements for outdoor events, athletes



GENESEE COUNTY — Face coverings will not be required for most outdoor gatherings, following a recent change to the state’s mask mandate on May 6.

Under a new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) order, masks will not be generally required outdoors unless a gathering has 100 or more people. Additionally, anyone who has been fully vaccinated and is not experiencing symptoms will not be required to wear a mask for indoor or residential gatherings.

Although masks will continue to be required for contact sports, they will no longer be required outdoors for athletes during active practice and competition for non-contact sports. For example, softball and baseball players will be required to wear a mask in the dugout but not when at bat or playing in the field.

Fully vaccinated athletes and coaches will also be exempt from weekly COVID-19 testing mandates but athletes and coaches who are not considered fully vaccinated still need to receive a weekly rapid antigen COVID-19 test to continue participating in practice or competitions.

The new order will continue through Memorial Day on May 31.

Despite the loosening of requirements, the MDHHS is continuing to urge Michiganders to follow CDC guidance, even where not specifically required by an epidemic order. For people who aren’t yet fully vaccinated, that means masking up whenever around other people not from their household.

“The commitment by Michiganders to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is allowing us to move toward a return to normal,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “The vaccines work. That means once Michiganders are fully vaccinated, they do not have to abide by as many health guidelines because of the protection the vaccine provides from the spread of the virus.”

To date, over 1/3 of Michigan residents 16 and older have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and over 50 percent have received at least a first dose.

Updates to the state’s Gatherings and Masks Order are also encouraging more outdoor events with larger capacities permitted for entertainment and recreational facilities, as well as increased capacity for sports stadiums and arenas that hold events outdoors. This includes:

–Large outdoor events, including festivals, fairs, and golf tournaments, will be able to exceed the current 1,000-person limit so long as they create and post a safety plan consistent with the MDHHS Large Outdoor Event Guidance, and no more than 20 persons per 1,000 square feet are gathered in any space available to patrons.

–Outdoor stadiums and arenas complying with enhanced protocols will continue to be allowed to operate at 20 percent of their fixed seating capacity. For example, a stadium with a maximum capacity complying with enhanced protocols would be permitted to host 8,000 patrons. Otherwise, for stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,000 patrons may be gathered (previously 750).

–1,500 patrons may be gathered at stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 10,000 or greater without enhanced protocols.

–Residential outdoor gatherings are allowed up to 50 people. Up to 300 people may be gathered where density does not exceed 20 persons per 1,000 square feet of usable outdoor space.

For the latest COVID-19 information, visit michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC. gov/Coronavirus.